Former Vice President Mike Pence Ends Presidential Bid: Struggles, Suspended Campaign, and Future Plans

Former Vice President Mike Pence Drops Presidential Bid

Former Vice President Mike Pence announced on Saturday that he is ending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering in Las Vegas, Pence stated, “It’s become clear to me: This is not my time.” He made the decision to suspend his campaign after struggling to raise funds and gain traction in the polls.

Pence expressed no regrets, acknowledging the uphill battle he faced. The friendly audience at the event reacted with surprise to the announcement, offering multiple standing ovations. His withdrawal marks the departure of the first major candidate in a race dominated by his former boss-turned-rival, Donald Trump, highlighting the significant transformation Trump has brought to the Republican Party.

Pence’s Decision and Impact

Although Pence did not immediately endorse any of his rivals, he reiterated his criticism of Trump, urging his fellow Republicans to select a presidential nominee who would lead with civility and appeal to the better angels of their nature, echoing Abraham Lincoln’s words.

Pence’s decision comes more than two months before the Iowa caucuses, the primary event his campaign was centered around. By withdrawing early, he avoids accumulating additional debt and the potential embarrassment of failing to qualify for the third Republican primary debate in Miami on November 8.

However, Pence’s withdrawal deals a significant blow to a politician who had spent years as Trump’s most loyal lieutenant. During their final days in office, Pence faced scapegoating from Trump, who erroneously believed Pence possessed the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election and keep both of them in office. Pence’s refusal to engage in this scheme drew Trump’s fury, as well as the wrath of many of Trump’s supporters, who viewed Pence as a traitor.

Pence’s Enabling and Public Perception

Among critics of Trump, Pence was seen as an enabler who consistently defended the former president and avoided criticizing even his most indefensible actions. As a result, an August survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicated that 57% of U.S. adults held a negative view of Pence, while only 28% viewed him positively.

Pence’s Campaign Challenges

During his campaign, Pence aimed to overcome the perception that he was well-known but not truly understood. He embarked on a rigorous schedule, frequently visiting diners and Pizza Ranch restaurants to connect with voters.

Pence heavily relied on Iowa, a state known for its large white Evangelical population that traditionally supports religious and socially conservative candidates. Despite campaigning alongside his wife, Karen, a Christian school teacher, and emphasizing his hard-line views on issues like abortion, Pence struggled to gain traction in Iowa. He consistently pushed for a minimum 15-week national ban on abortion and advocated for banning alternative drugs used instead of surgical procedures.

Pence also sought to address his actions on January 6, 2021, repeatedly explaining to voters that he fulfilled his constitutional duty on that day, despite the political consequences. His campaign team believed that this strategy would garner respect from a majority of Republicans who disagreed with Trump’s actions. However, Pence’s efforts fell short in Iowa and failed to resonate widely.

Financial Challenges and Pence’s Future

Raising funds proved to be an equally difficult challenge for Pence, despite his longstanding relationships with donors. As of September, his campaign had only $1.18 million in the bank and $621,000 in debt. Incurring further debt would have taken Pence, who lacks personal wealth, years to repay.

People close to Pence began expressing concerns about his long-term standing within the party if he persisted as a candidate against Trump, who holds a dominant lead in the race for the 2024 nomination. Ultimately, Pence decided that he could continue to advocate on issues he cares about even without remaining in the campaign.

Pence intends to remain engaged in political discourse through Advancing American Freedom, the conservative think tank he founded after leaving the vice presidency. With this organization, he hopes to provide an alternative to The Heritage Foundation and advocate for policies he championed during his campaign, including increased U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion and proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare to address the national debt. These ideas were once mainstream Republican orthodoxy but have been overshadowed by Trump’s isolationist and populist views.

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